Raising a child with food allergies can be very trying. Even if they know what they’re allergic to and that they should avoid it, that’s easier said than done. Children often exchange snacks and lunch items at school, and they can unintentionally eat something that they shouldn’t. And the most common food allergens in kids are often ingredients in other foods, so they might eat something they’re allergic to despite their best efforts.
Can Kids Outgrow Food Allergies?
In light of all the difficulties, it’s no wonder that parents want to believe that their children will eventually outgrow their allergies. In fact, kids often do outgrow them. But some children keep their food allergies into the teenage years or early adulthood, and others never outgrow them.
Some Allergies Are Easier to Outgrow Than Others
Studies have shown that certain food allergies are more likely to be outgrown than others. Common allergies that most children outgrow include milk, egg, soy and wheat. Children who are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, however, are less likely to outgrow their allergies.
Another factor in outgrowing allergies is how many foods your child is allergic to. Children that are allergic to only one food are the most likely to outgrow their allergies. Children with multiple food allergies, on the other hand, often keep them for life. Similarly, those who have had serious reactions (especially anaphylactic reactions) to foods are less likely to outgrow their allergies than those who have had only minor reactions.
How Long Does It Take to Outgrow a Food Allergy?
Children develop food allergies at various ages. Some might show symptoms before they are eating solid foods, while others have no reactions until they reach preschool age. Outgrowing allergies happens at different ages, too.
The food allergies that are most often outgrown are also the ones that tend to disappear at the earliest ages. Some children with milk, egg, soy and wheat allergies outgrow them by five years of age. That doesn’t mean that your child will never outgrow her allergy if she hasn’t by that point, though. Every child is different, and yours could outgrow an allergy at any time.
The allergies that are harder to outgrow usually stick around for a few more years. Children with peanut allergies have a 20% chance of outgrowing them, and those with tree nut allergies have a 10% chance. This could happen at a young age, but it’s more likely that the allergy will persist at least into the preteen years. Fish and shellfish allergies usually appear at a later age, and most people do not outgrow them.
When a child has gone a year or more without an allergic reaction, her doctor might decide to run some tests to see if she has outgrown her allergy. These may include a new skin allergy test and measurement of IgE levels. If the results are favorable, the doctor may order an oral food challenge. This involves giving the child small amounts of the food allergen at specified intervals, working up to a full serving. The child is carefully monitored during the test. If there is no allergic reaction, the food allergy is declared outgrown.
Kids do not always outgrow food allergies. But in some cases, they do. Your child’s doctor can determine how likely she is to outgrow an allergy.